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Live Active Cultures

Who will love Legoland's new theme park, and who will loathe it?

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Nostalgia nuts: If Miniland is Legoland’s heart, the lovingly preserved Cypress Gardens is its soul. The original botanical displays look better now than at any time since the 2004 hurricanes, and even the belles are back, albeit made of plastic bricks. The Island in the Sky observation platform has also been resurrected, granting exquisite views from Lake Eloise to Bok Tower. For those old enough to remember the park’s 1950s heyday, there are discounted over-60 tickets and annual passes – perfect for bringing the grandkids.

Polk politicians: As Merlin Entertainments Group CEO Nick Varney emphasized in his grand opening remarks to assembled dignitaries, his company, which operates Legoland and is also building attractions on I-Drive, needs continued local support to expand Legoland into a multi-day resort. (There’s a water park opening this spring, with more rides and a hotel to follow.) With Polk County unemployment at 12.1 percent, any elected officials impeding additional Legojobs might find themselves looking for a new job.

Block-crazed kids: Let’s face it: None of my park-geek critique means squat to Legoland’s target demographic. If you’re under 11, this is the coolest place on earth – maybe even better than Disney, since most of these rides have lower minimum-height restrictions. If your spawn has succumbed to the Lego lure, bite the bullet and board the shuttle bus ($5 per person round trip from the Orlando Premium Outlets). As long as you try to see the place through tiny eyes, you’ll have a blast.

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